The number of hurling referees for the 2013 championship looks set to be cut by 25pc, it has emerged.
The list of championship referees has yet to be finalised but with a reduction from 12 to nine planned and a balance required between the provinces, particularly Munster and Leinster, some high-profile casualties can be expected.
Hurling referees were briefed about the move at a gathering on Tuesday night. The national referees' chairman Pat McEnaney is a big believer in fewer referees taking charge of more games to ensure greater 'match fitness.'
With just 26 hurling championships matches, including replays, last season, the top referees will be busier than every before. Hurling operated with 45 referees covering all the league divisions over the last three months but McEnaney's committee have hinted at plans to scale this figure down even more.
With just 80 hurling matches they are keen to extract greater economy from their referees in the future.
With just nine places available on the panel, the speculation is that Munster and Leinster will have four each, with one from Connacht. However, that remains to be finalised.
Last season the football panel was reduced from 18 to 16, but with the volume of games there doesn't appear to be much scope to go any lower.
McEnaney expressed dissatisfaction with the standard of hurling refereeing in last year's championship and offered the view that up to eight red-card offences were not punished accordingly in the 2013 championship.
"As a group I'd have to say we weren't happy with it. There were only two red cards in this year's championship.
"We felt in our review that there should have been seven to eight more red cards that were clear offences in our view. That's a figure of 16pc that we got right, which is not satisfactory," he said at the time.